Aahhhh, rough night in Cali, Colombia and it’s making me feel a bit homesick. To help alleviate this, I thought it might be nice to share some of the pictures that I took of my garden back in Vancouver. Today we’re looking at Kalmia polifolia, also known as the Bog Laurel. This lovely plant is in the Ericaceae family, which includes things like cranberries, blueberries, arbutus trees and rhododendrons.
In the images above, the first shows the developing flower buds. I really like the angular folds in the developing petals, which make them look almost like a crown. In the 2nd image, we see the flowers blooming properly. If you look carefully you can see that the pollen producing anthers have little tails (projections near the top of the sac) that are characteristic of this family.
The Bog Laurel often grows with and is mistaken for Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum), which is a fragant plant that is often used for tea. It’s pretty easy to tell them part though, because Labrador Tea leaves have an orange fuzz on the undersurface when mature. While Labrador Tea is quite soothing, a tea of Bog Laurel could do some damage. The leaves contain a grayanotoxin that is really bad for you, so make sure you know what you’re collecting!
My Bog Laurel was actually a super deal for me. I was shopping at the UBC Botanical Garden Store, which has a rack in the back for old and retired plants. I found this one little pot for Labrador Tea. They must have used soil from a nearby bog, because volunteer plants had also emerged, including the bog laurel, various rushes, and other beautiful bog plants.
Well, expect to see more Colombia blogging soon. Hope y’all are doing well.